The Working People

Entry by: shadasmash

10th March 2017
In America most people work, but not all are called the working class. Unlike most class distinctions the working class is not based on how much you make, but what kid of collar you have. Professional people who work in a sterile office environment have white collars. They come home from work looking much like they did when they arrived, in a shirt and tie. By contrast the working class wear blue collars, hard hats or some variation thereof. They also start the day in a crisp, clean shirt just like their white collar counterparts. But by the end of the day their labor has turned the once crisp shirt into a work of art done in sweat, dirt and grease. They trudge around in heavy steel-toed work boots, tracking in the filth from the work environment into their homes.

This has been the American myth. The white collars had the brains to organize, engineer, manage and direct the path of our country...and the blue collars were there to get it done or as we say in America, 'git-r-done.' White collars are college educated, blue collars finish high school or get a trade school certificate. The hostilities between the groups were open and apparent. Feuds and resentments between school children continued into adulthood fertilizing the "us" versus "them" mentality.

This natural order was perfectly intact until Donald Trump, a wealthy, privileged upper one-percent white collar came in and swept the blue collars off of their feet. It seemed implausible. How could who lived in luxury and who blatantly scorned the working class, by bypassing their products in favor or foreign goods woo these people? If you ask any working class person you get the same response.

"I like Donald Trump because he's not a politician and he speaks his mind."

Many journalist countered with the fact that anybody can speak their mind, but it doesn't make them fit to be president.

Since that dreadful night of November 8, 2016 when the working class made their mandate, American journalist have been in a flurry trying to find the middle class. Prior to the rise of Donald Trump they were almost invisible. Although much of the mainstream media catered to their taste, their were few characters in film or TV that really portrayed them. They occasionally popped up in reality TV as the sort of white trash train wreck that gives a sordid validity to the masses.

As journalist when out to find the working class, I had no such journey. For me the working class were only a few mouse clicks away. I grew up in a working class family, back in the 1970s when we got by mostly by my dad's income at a hot, dirty foundry where they make the molds for steel products. My dad was in a union, but he didn't have a cushy union job where he made a large sum of money for sweeping the floors. He made a living wage doing hot, sweaty, dirty work. He came home with hands so greasy that he first washed them in gasoline to cut through the grease. He washed his blackened hands until they once again were brown. We were not just working class, we were black working class in a sea of white counterparts.

Although I went off to study engineering and public health and I live thousands of miles from where I grew up, I stay connected with my past via Facebook. I have a lot of friends that I have known since kindergarten. Many of these friends voted for Trump. I did not. Nor did I vote against Trump. I eagerly and enthusiastically voted for Hillary Clinton. Some of my pro-Trump friends are very blatant about it and in addition to the normal rhetoric there are also racist comments concerning the outgoing President Obama. I have deleted these friends. The others, I dialogue with, when it is possible.

I'll never forget one of my ultra conservative, Trump loving friends. For some reason, even though he is a white truck driver living over a thousand miles away, he wanted to take me out for lunch. I thought it was funny. We had a good Facebook chat and he confided that he wants to go back to the America of our childhood. Even though I was the only black in a white country town, it was an idyllic childhood. Few were rich, few were poor. Most of us were in the middle. Most of our parents hadn't attended college. We were a monolith, we watched the same TV shows, went to the same churches and had a lot in common. And while I could agree with what he was saying, I could not ignore that we are living in different times and instead of longing for the past we need to look into the future.

But for one second, it was very cool to be on the same page, to find some middle ground in this crazy apocalyptic confusion that has descended up on our country. I guess, if anything, we will always have yesterday.